Georgia: Hamas rockets provoked Israel

Georgia Materials 6 January 2009 00:58 (UTC +04:00)

Georgia accuses the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas of provoking Israel into pounding the Gaza Strip despite reports to the contrary.

"The escalation of tensions in the Gaza Strip...has been triggered by rocket attacks launched by Hamas against innocent Israeli civilians," read a Georgian foreign ministry statement on Monday, AFP reported.

Pro-Western Tbilisi's comments came in the face of widespread international condemnation of Israel's continued aggression in the area which has entered its 10th day, reported Press TV .

On December 27, Israeli F16 bombers and apache helicopters carried out at least 30 simultaneous raids on various targets across the Gaza strip 'to stop Hamas from continuing its rocket attacks on Israel.'

555 Palestinians have been killed so far during the attacks and 2,790 others have sustained injuries. Hamas retaliation has either killed or wounded a handful of Israelis.

The attacks came amid 18 months of Israeli-imposed blockade on the coastal area and after the expiration of a six-month truce between Tel Aviv and Hamas.

The truce was, in the meantime, regularly breached by Israel which would target the Gaza Strip with rockets and send its troops into the area arresting or killing Palestinians including Hamas fighters, activists and police officers.

Georgia enjoys good relations with Israel which has reportedly provided Tbilisi with arms and advice prior to the country's attempt to retake the pro-independence republic of South Ossetia last August.

"Israel armed and trained the Georgian army," said Russia's Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn on August 19 before saying Tbilisi had received "military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for the clearing minefields" from Tel Aviv.